Got the front of the icon board sealed and added 3 coats of gesso yesterday. But before I can continue (and I am headed to the Island tomorrow for a few days for the painting exhibit reception), I needed to flip the board onto its front and seal and paint the back of the board. It can be left this way while I'm away in order to completely dry.
That protects the board from any warping over the period that I am writing it. It is not as critical when using 3/4" birch plywood along with the 1/4" front frame, but the stresses of an unfinished side leaves it open to drying or absorbing moisture, and warping because of it. That is why I also build a proper support easel for a piece this size, again to avoid stresses on the board when resting against an uneven surface.
Before I flip it back again, although seemly a backward process, I also need to add my monogram, year, and any inscription on the back, even before writing the icon. Why? It's a logistical problem. Once the icon is written and the gold leafing is done, for a piece this size, it is far too risky to lay the icon on its front to add the inscriptions at the end.